I was going through Craig’s list last weekend looking for pigs to buy. It was time we had a couple on the ground and growing since we are not low on pork but it is starting to get down there. Actually I was looking for the Guinea Hog as I Like them as an animal to work with and the meat is very good. I found a few but they were all a ways off and expensive. More so than the other breeds on a per pound basis and harder to find as well. I did however like the very limited rooting habits of the Guinea hog though. But I decided to look at others as well. I found a couple that were available but then I found a big hog for sale at what I considered to be a good price. About 450 lbs. of big! A lot of hog. And there was pigs for sale there as well. It also helped that it was only about fifteen to twenty minutes away as apposed to a couple hours drive.
Long story shortened I hooked up the trailer and went to look. They looked good so I bought the big one and two pigs. So here it is Sunday afternoon and I know I am going to have the big one slaughtered come Tuesday so what am I going to do. The two pigs are in with him and Pauline and I are both concerned that he may hurt them either by accident or on purpose. Doesn’t matter the results are the same. Just spent money on them and if they get hurt I have lost my investment. Here we are standing around discussing how to get the pigs out without unloading him all concerned that he may be aggressive with them when I looked around and there in the stock trailer he is laying down asleep after eating some of the corn I had put in there for him and there stands one of the pigs on his shoulder with two feet on his head eating the corn that had gotten on him and not fallen off. Oh well maybe his meaness was not an issue after all. I tried to get a picture of it but with my expertise with electronic devises the pig had relocated before I got it on and focused.
Separating them was not hard at all. Our stock trailer door slides to one side instead of swinging open as most of them do so it was just a matter of backing the trailer up to the gate close enough that we could block the sides so they could not go anywhere except into the loading chute open the gate enough for the pigs to get through but securing it enough that the big one could not force it’s way out and do it quickly. Really it was not a problem but remember these are animals I am not familiar with and do not know their personalities. I have to admit it made me a little on edge reaching inside this trailer to wrap rope around the sliding gate with something twice my size and more teeth than a little bit standing there watching me from not even 3 foot away. After that I? It was a matter of letting the pigs see us putting corn down in the chute and out they came. Close the gate on the big one move the trailer out close the gate on the pigs and (I need a beer).
OK I have mentioned before it is just Pauline and I now and we don’t need all that meat at one time anymore so what are we going to do with it. Apparently I make pretty good sausage and there are people that are willing to buy shares in an animal when we have it available. It is time to start making calls. Tuesday comes and off we go to the local processor. I finally figured out that I could make the half hour ride there to deliver it, the half hour ride to pick it up pay him the cost to have it slaughtered hung and chilled and still be several hours ahead of what it would take me to do it by myself. A lot of wrestling goes into one man handling something that large. Got him back on Thursday afternoon late and immediately started boning out Friday morning. Just about 275 lbs. of boneless meat when it is done. Boneless except for the ribs and shanks of course. Personally I am convinced it would be near sacrilegious to bone out ribs for sausage. The shanks were all cut for braising as well. Too much tough chewy tissue there to make good sausage so we do something else we enjoy with it. OH yeah! The bacon! Another one of those spiritual issues. It goes in the refrigerator in a two gallon plastic bag with the proper seasonings and a few days later it gets to visit the smoker. See http://hobbyfarmlife.com/farm-raised-farm-fresh-home-made-smoked-bacon/ . The recipe for seasoning bacon and smoking process I use is not my own but I have lost both the name of and internet address of the person whose it is. It is an English person, I think, and he speaks of Charcuterie ( or ; northern French: [ʃaʁkytˈʁi] or southern French: [ʃaʁkytəˈʁi], from chair ‘flesh’ and cuit ‘cooked’) is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. a lot. I still have not figured out how to pronounce that. His recipe is short sweet, in more ways than one, and easy to accomplish. And it turns out GOOOOOD!!!! I started out with another by accident until the part where it called for bay leaves. I started to question but continued on. Then I hit garlic and juniper berries and that was too much. Bacon is mostly breakfast food for me. Garlic and juniper berries do not fit there somehow. Anyway back to the one I know and love. Go ahead call me simple it has been said before but I like it that way.
Saturday morning the bacon hits the smoker. I certainly hope I can convince Pauline to have some for breakfast If I get it finished in time. That wasn’t a problem. She enjoys it the same as I do and brunch is what is preferred on the weekends. Two sides were smoked. One with honey and one with brown sugar and would you believe one more time I did not keep them separated enough to be sure which was which. They were both good. Oh yeah we had some of each. The one I THINK was the honey was preferred by both of us but we will have no problem using both.
There is a problem with homemade bacon. Unless you have a slicer or are far better with a knife than I am you will not get it as thin as store bought so it will not fry up crispy like store bought. I still love it.
But back to the sausage. We made 30 lbs. of Stuffed Italian and a hundred and twenty five lbs. of country and we managed to keep about 10 pounds of the country but no Italian. No complaints and a lot of compliments so I guess it is good. We still have 50 lbs. of meat in the freezer that we will use later. That will make excellent sausage as well.
Sausage was originally just seasoned and preserved meats from the scraps and trimmings not being left on or used in the other cuts. A way to insure everything was used and not lost to spoilage. Necessity due to a lack of refrigeration. Spices and smoking both act as preservatives. Today whole hog sausage is not uncommon. Is it whole hog? We don’t know for sure. I will say however that unless the animal is quite fat the sausage could turn out dry. The hams and loins both do not have a lot of marbeling in most cases and yes the cap or outside fat can be mixed in but it still is not the same as the meats that naturally have more fat within the muscle.
So how do you do it. It is simple but that does not mean easy. You start with good meat. Enough fat to keep it moist but not enough that a lot of it is left in the pan. Keep it COLD upper 30s to lower 40s is where I like mine. Cut up into pieces your grinder can easily handle. Mix before you start to distribute the fat evenly. Find or make a seasoning mixture that you like. For country or breakfast I grind once through a 3/8″ plate, mix in the seasoning mix well. Make sure it is evenly mixed throughout. Put the seasonings in ICE COLD WATER if you want to, to can help in the mixing. But not to much it will spit and splatter when being cooked. Grind a second time through a 3/16 or 1/8 plate if that is what you have. KEEP IT COLD THROUGHOUT. Mix again after second grinding package and refrigerate or freeze as you wish and need.
Not complicated but not easy either.
OPPS here is Pauline with breakfast ready. Sausage of course eggs and pancakes. I am going to sign off here and enjoy the fruits of our labor.